Goldman Banker Turned ASX Listings Head Targets Kiwi Companies

ASX Ltd. is luring more New Zealand companies to sell shares in Australia with access to the world’s fourth-biggest pile of pension savings, according to the exchange’s head of listings.

As many as seven of New Zealand’s 25 largest publicly-traded companies are actively considering an Australian listing, said Max Cunningham, the head of listings and issuer services at ASX, Asia’s third-largest exchange by market value. Some 50 New Zealand firms will be listed in Australia within the next 18 months, he said. That compares with 33 now.

ASX needs to grow its market to accommodate Australia’s A$1.85 trillion ($1.7 trillion) in pension savings, which are forecast to almost double by the end of this decade. The nation’s listed companies are worth $1.5 trillion, outstripping New Zealand’s by about 22 times, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Cunningham’s division accounted for the largest proportion of ASX sales growth in the year ended June.

“We’ve put a huge amount of effort into New Zealand,” Cunningham, who ran Australian equity capital markets at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. prior to joining ASX last year, said in an interview in Sydney yesterday. “We have six or seven of the top 25 New Zealand firms that aren’t listed on ASX, actively looking. We expect that number to grow.”

He declined to name any of the companies or from which industries they came, because the details are private.

ASX’s listings revenue climbed 12 percent to A$127 million in the year ended June with 107 initial public offierings, compared with 82 in the previous 12 months.

Relative Value

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rallied 5.2 percent this year through yesterday and this month closed at the highest level since June 2008. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose to a record high last month and has advanced 10 percent this year.

With a value of about $67 billion, New Zealand’s share market ranks 14th in size among 16 Asia-Pacific venues tracked by Bloomberg.

Of the 10 heaviest-weighted members of the NZX 50 Index, only two don’t have Australian-traded shares, Ryman Healthcare Ltd. and Contact Energy Ltd. Genesis Energy Ltd. and Vista Group International Ltd. are among New Zealand companies that have completed IPOs in their neighboring market this year.

“Having 50 Kiwi companies listed here within the next 18 months would be a pretty achievable target,” Cunningham said.

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